The foundation of gluten-free salads is typically vegetables, lettuces, or fruits that are naturally gluten-free. When making gluten-free salads, it is important to review the ingredient labels on any prepared foods, condiments, and seasonings used in salad preparation in order to ensure that gluten is not inadvertently added to the dish. It is also crucial to make sure that the utensils, prep surfaces, and bowls used to prepare and serve the salad are clean and have not been contaminated with food containing gluten. By taking these steps, home cooks can make salads that individuals with celiac disease or who adhere to a gluten-free lifestyle can enjoy without concern for triggering negative symptoms and reactions.
Making gluten-free salads is typically not a difficult task, as there are many different salad recipes that do not require the use of products that contain gluten. One exception to this may be pasta salads; however, there are several gluten-free pastas on the market that can easily be substituted for standard noodles in salad recipes. Cooks who are making gluten-free salads with seafood substitutes should likewise check to make sure that these products do not contain gluten.
While the main ingredients in a salad may not contain gluten, there is a risk of inadvertently adding gluten in the form of extra ingredients such as croutons or salad dressings. There is also the possibility that some salad toppings, such as seeds and nuts, may have been processed on the same equipment as products containing gluten. Cooks should take care to read product labels so as to avoid introducing gluten into a salad. If someone is extremely sensitive to gluten, she may wish to use only salad ingredients that are specifically labeled as gluten-free.
Another concern in making gluten-free salads is that of cross contamination. For example, a cook may use a knife to slice some bread on a cutting board and then use the same cutting board and knife to slice up vegetables for use in the salad or a colander may be used to strain both standard and gluten-free pasta. For individuals with celiac disease, even tiny amounts of gluten can trigger a reaction, which means that it is important to guard against cross-contamination. Some experts advise segregating the kitchen into gluten-free and gluten-use areas. If that is not possible, cooks should either use separate utensils for foods that are gluten-free and that contain gluten or thoroughly wash all utensils after each use.